Saunders Named Spirits Awards' "Someone to Watch"; Nominees Surveyed As Spirits and Oscars Draw Near
by Eugene Hernandez
Another awards season draws to a close with tomorrow’s Independent
Spirit Awards and Monday’s Academy Awards.
On the indie side, the big story is yesterday’s news from Next Wave
President and IFP West VP Peter Broderick that filmmaker Scott Saunders
(“The Headhunter’s Sister”) is the recipient of the Swatch “Someone to
Watch” Award, to be presented at tomorrow’s ocean-side Spirits ceremony.
The cash award is valued at a whopping $20,000. Last year’s recipient
was Larry Fessenden (“Habit”), nominated this year in the Best Director
“I am very pleased,” Saunders told indieWIRE yesterday, “as soon as the debts
are paid off, its hookers and gambling!” Seriously, Saunders who was at the
Sundance Lab last year with a new film, plans to use the cash to pay off his
credit cards, and take advantage of the luxury he will be afforded in not
having to work so many hours as a part-time video editor. Time he will
devote to the new project and the continuing plan to find distribution for
“The Headhunters Sister.”
Another sponsor driven honor is the Ralph Lauren Producers Award which
will recognize the work of an American indie producer who “demonstrates
exceptional creativity, tenacity, and vision in producing quality with highly
limited resources.” The nominees are Margot Bridger (“Arresting Gena” and
“The Delta”), FILMMAKER Magazine Editor Scott Macaulay and his producing
partner Robin O’Hara (“First Love, Last Rites” and “Gummo), Lisa Onodera
(“Forbidden City”), Richard Raddon (“Shooting Lily”), and Susan Stover
(“Work” and “The Sticky Fingers of Time”).
On the official website for the Spirits
(http://ifctv.com/events/98isa/main.html), visitors can vote for their
favorite nominee in each of 12 categories.
With 37% of the votes, “The Apostle” is ahead of the pack in the Best
Feature category, it also leads with 51% in the Best Director category,
and 35% in the Best Male Lead category. The most successful from an
indie distributor at the box office last year, “Eve’s Bayou,” is leading
with 35% in the Best First Feature, while Neil LaBute’s screenplay for
“In The Company of Men” is ahead of the pack with 40% in the Best First
Screenplay category. Finally, Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hearafter” leads
for Best Foreign Film, with 53%.
Oscar documentary nominee Spike Lee (“Four Little Girls”) will take the
podium to deliver the Spirit’s keynote speech tomorrow. Lee won a Spirit
Award in 1987 for his first feature, “She’s Gotta Have It.” Meanwhile, the
spirit’s doc prize dubbed the “Truer Than Fiction” Award, will go to one of
five indie doc nominees: Michele Ohayon’s “Color Straight Up,” Macky
Alston’s “Family Name,” Errol Morris’ “Fast, Cheap & Out of Control,”
Kirby Dick’s “Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist”
or Danielle Gardner’s “Soul in the Hole.” Ohayon’s film is also a nominee
for Monday night’s doc Oscar.
The nominees for the primary category Spirit Awards range from more
well-known films, “The Apostle” and “Ulee’s Gold” which are nominated
in the same five categories (Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay,
Best Male Lead, and Best Supporting Female) and smaller, lesser known
films, “Loved” (Best Feature, Best Female Lead,” “Best Supporting Female”)
and “Hard Eight” (Best First Feature, Best First Screenplay, Best
Cinematographer, Best Supporting Male, Best Male Lead). Slamdance ’97
Grand Prize winner “The Bible and Gun Club” nabbed 3 nominations (Best
First Feature, Best First Screenplay, Best Cinematographer).
For the award’s ceremony across town on Monday night, the media is
touting the decrease in the number of “indiefilm” nominations this year,
while in reality the downturn is actually for films from studio specialty
divisions. Among the real “indies” competing for Oscars, “The Apostle”
and “Ulee’s Gold” will go head to head again, with nominations in the lead
actor category for Robert Duvall and Peter Fonda respectively.
Despite the ocean of nominations for “Titanic,” a host of other nominations
are worth noting to Oscar watchers. Woody Allen’s nomination in the
Original Screenplay category marks his 13th nod, breaking Billy Wilder’s
12 nomination record; Jack Nicholson’s eleventh acting nomination sets a
record for most nominations for a male performer; each of the nominees
for best director is a first time nominee; and notably Anna Behlmer
(nominated for her sounds effects work on “L.A. Confidential”) remains
the only woman ever nominated in the category — this is her third
consecutive nomination. Finally, for those keeping track, in the foreign
film category this marks Germany’s third nomination, The Netherland’s
fifth, Brazil’s third, Spain’s sixteenth, and Russia’s fourth.
+ (Feb 11, 1998) AMPAS Announces the Nominees for the 1997 Academy Awards